Going back to Chatelherault’s 18th Century roots
Volunteer to Plant the Past
Mike Taylor, Visitor Services Officer, Chatelherault Country Park
Six volunteers have contributed over 350 hours to reinstating the historic border surrounding the Visitor Centre at Chatelherault Country Park to its 18th century glory since September, and it’s not too late for you to join them!
The volunteers have been working tirelessly on Saturdays and Tuesdays to restore the three metre wide border surrounding the Hunting Lodge, to what it would have looked like around 1740, when it was in use by the 10th Duke of Hamilton.
To clear, prepare and re-plant the border was going to entail a lot of physical work as well as a fair degree of expert knowledge. Garden history graduates Elaine Lauder and Janet Woodburn have been instrumental in setting the project up, from researching plants to planning where they should be planted. Plants such as Sneezewort, Black Chokeberry and Wormwood have been selected for their popularity in 18th century gardens - see images below.
After an induction day in August, when volunteers were given basic training and health and safety presentations, we were delighted to welcome ten people to the Planting the Past project. Equipment was purchased and we were ready to make a start.
Working from the east side, we took out some very mature plants, shrubs and trees - being quite ruthless but following the new design which had been beautifully prepared by Elaine and Janet. Some of the heavy work was done midweek by The Lanarkshire Association for Mental Health volunteers, for which we are very grateful. Any plants that we found to be useful have been kept in a nursery storage area to be dispersed according to the design.
By the beginning of November, the border had been cleared of foliage, and plant roots and cultivation and preparation will take place until the end of the month. Plants have been ordered according to Elaine and Janet’s plan, and the majority of these will be kept in store until early spring when they will be planted. We received a generous donation of two ten ton loads of compost from GP Recycling, Kirkfieldbank, which will be used as a soil conditioner before transplanting and planting of the new plants.
Most of the plants sourced, including those we have kept from the present border, are ones appropriate to the 18th century. As it matures, the border will not only be a pleasant feature for visitors. It will also be of historical interest, giving an idea of what plants were grown for their ornamental, culinary and medicinal virtues, which will be displayed on interpretation in the borders to be installed next spring.
The project is part of a wider initiative to restore Chatelherault Country Park to its former splendour, which includes the recent removal of non-native conifers within the park. The border will mature at the same time as the native woodland to the south of the Hunting Lodge will be regenerating. Planting the Past is managed by South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture Trust, with support from Tesco ‘Bags of Help’ fund and Heritage Lottery Fund and LEADER supported Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership (CAVLP).